PHOENIX – Struggling Braves rookie Dansby Swanson is being sent down to Triple-A.
Swanson, batting just .214 with six home runs and a .287 on-base percentage in 95 games, was informed after the Braves’ series finale Wednesday at Arizona that he would be optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett.
A corresponding move will be announced before the Braves’ series opener Friday at Philadelphia.
It will be the first experience at Triple-A for Swanson, 23, who was called up directly from Double-A last August to the major leagues and enjoyed immediate success, batting .302 with a .361 on-base percentage in 38 major league games.
He’s had only 127 total games in the minor leagues, but expectations soared due to his early success, his lofty prospect ranking -- as high as No. 2 in baseball according to some experts -- and his presence at the center of so many of the Braves’ marketing campaigns.
Some Braves coaches and team officials had warned that Swanson would experience the inevitable struggles that virtually every rookie does, but his slumps this season had gotten to the point that something needed to be done.
Before getting two hits Wednesday against the Diamondbacks, the organization that drafted him with the No. 1 overall pick in 2015 out of Vanderbilt University, Swanson was 5-for-55 in his past 19 games and had recently lost considerable playing time to hot-hitting rookie Johan Camago.
Swanson hit .185 with a .559 OPS in 178 at-bats over his first 50 games through May 31, then heated up with a .333 average, .827 OPS and only 12 strikeouts in 87 at-bats over his next 24 games through June 25.
But just when it appeared he’d righted his season, he went into another, even worse tailspin that saw him hit .119 (7-for-59) with six walks, 22 strikeouts and a .386 OPS over his past 21 games.
Camargo started nine of the past 18 games at shortstop including three in a row before Swanson got a start Wednesday against Arizona left-hander Patrick Corbin in what was to be his final game before the demotion to Triple-A.
The Braves were hesitant to make the move to send down the high-profile rookie despite his extended struggles, since the Marietta native remains such a big part of their future plans and the Braves put a lot of value in the intangibles he brings to the team and the positive effect they believe he’s had in pushing Camargo.
But with his playing time recently reduced, the Braves decided that sending him down now was the best move for Swanson, who needs to play every day and regain his confidence at the plate.
The Braves acquired Swanson along with center fielder Ender Inciarte and pitching prospect Aaron Blair in a December 2015 trade that sent pitcher Shelby Miller and a minor leaguer to the Diamondbacks.
Swanson was viewed until recently as the primary reason that trade was hugely one-sided in favor of the Braves, but Inciarte would go on to win his first Gold Glove in 2016 and be been named to the National League All-Star team this season.